’I’m trying to prove I’m worth the bet’

Sergio Perez speaks exclusively to F1i about his career trajectory, life at Force India, lessons from McLaren and hopes for a move to a bigger team

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Hungarian Grand Prix - Preparation Day - Budapest, Hungary

With 20 seats available - of which typically only a handful provide a chance of victory - simply getting yourself in to a position to be a title challenger is incredibly difficult for any F1 driver.

So how hard is it to do for a second time in your career?

Sergio Perez showed flashes of exciting potential during two years at Sauber which yielded three podium finishes and very nearly a victory in the 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix. He was tipped as a future Ferrari driver before McLaren stepped in and took him as Lewis Hamilton’s replacement a year later.

But 2013 was a disaster for McLaren, with no podium finish and an uncompetitive car. With just two races left in the season, Perez was dropped in mid-November, leaving his F1 future in the balance. He found refuge at Force India and duly scored another podium in just his third race for the team in Bahrain.

Perez has tended to get the standout results in his career, but it was his consistency which concerned the bosses at McLaren. Speaking to F1i about his career trajectory, Perez says he believes the headline results are more useful for him in midfield machinery.

"I’m trying to prove I’m worth the bet"

“Well I think it depends what you’re fighting for,” Perez said. “Sometimes it’s really good. Thanks to those spectacular races I’ve got four podiums in Formula One with cars that haven’t been capable of being there otherwise. So it really depends on the way you look at things.

“Obviously when you do these kind of results people look at you and that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to prove I’m worth the bet.”

While happy with his ability to outperform his car on occasion, Perez admits he needs to find more consistency if he is to really impress not only a top team, but his current employers as well. Force India is somewhere Perez feels he is developing as a driver at the same time as the team is moving forward.

“I feel very welcome at the team, very happy and really at home. I’m enjoying working with the team, I think we’ve improved. Last year we had the best year in the history of the team. Right now we’ve had a tough start to the year but when we look back it’s amazing what we’ve scored up until now.

“The last few races for myself haven’t been spectacular but I’m sure I will improve. We know fully the reasons for those difficult weekends so definitely I see plenty of positives coming up for the rest of the year.”

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - British Grand Prix - Race Day - Silverstone, England

While enjoying the improvements he is seeing from Force India, Perez admits he is seeking a second chance at one of the front-running teams.

“Definitely, it’s my dream. I want to become a world champion and it’s what I’m looking for; the big opportunity, obviously, to be in a position to be able to win the title.”

So what is different about the driver now compared to the driver who joined McLaren after just two years in Formula One? Perez is reluctant to highlight one area where he feels he has progressed significantly, but confident he is a more rounded prospect.

“I think purely experience. You know, I’ve learned so much throughout the years. When I was at McLaren it was just two years ago but two years in Formula One you grow in many areas. I learned a lot, I’m a more complete driver and I’m sure if I had the opportunity now with a big team I’m sure I can do the job and perform well against anyone.

“So I’m confident in my driving and I’m driving well. As I told you before I’ve had maybe two or three races during the year where I haven’t taken the maximum out of the car but in general I think I have been performing quite well.”

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - British Grand Prix - Practice Day - Silverstone, England

Force India had to launch an underdeveloped VJM08 this season before introducing the B-spec version of the car at Silverstone. With Perez yet to confirm his future for 2016 despite an option being in place at Force India, his name has not been a prominent one on the rumour mill and the Mexican acknowledges his chances of a move to a bigger team have been hurt by a relative lack of competitiveness in the first half of the season.

“Yeah in a way. In a way that flattens the opportunities. Sometimes you are not too visible when you need to be. But things change so quickly in Formula One - I can tell you that from my own experience - it can really change from one weekend to another.”

Keen to finalise his plans by the end of September, Perez says his best performances come out when he is settled. To that end, he still sees Force India as a team on the up and one he’s in no rush to leave unless the right offer comes along.

“Definitely this team has a good potential to move forward. As I told you before I’m happy in the team. Obviously there are many discussions we must have to renew, and once they are done I don’t see a reason why I shouldn’t sort out my future early enough to keep me relaxed.”

Click here for F1i's exclusive interview with McLaren racing director Eric Boullier

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